|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa today announced that an Edison, N.J., man who allegedly used violence and threats of violence to enslave women in a high-priced prostitution ring based in New Jersey has been arrested in Texas on charges including human trafficking as a result of an investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Edison Police Department.
In addition, the alleged pimp, Percival R. Williams, 35, of Edison, N.J., aka Tayvann Dunston, was charged with conspiring with his girlfriend to bring an estimated $500,000 worth of stolen diamonds into New Jersey. The girlfriend, Chanell “Asha” Vaughn, 23, allegedly stole the uncut diamonds on April 17, 2012 from a man’s room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Manhattan, where she solicited the man as a client for prostitution. Vaughn was arrested today at Williams’ home.
Williams was charged by complaint with first-degree human trafficking, third-degree promoting prostitution, second-degree theft (receiving stolen property), and third-degree conspiracy. Williams was arrested late Tuesday, Feb. 26, in Dallas, Texas, by the U.S. Marshals Service, on a warrant obtained by the Human Trafficking Unit of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. He is being held in Texas pending extradition to New Jersey.
Vaughn was charged by complaint by the Division of Criminal Justice with second-degree theft and third-degree conspiracy. She will be lodged in the Middlesex County Jail with bail set at $50,000.
“We charge that this man used violence and threats to enslave young women in a life of prostitution,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “The allegations against Williams reveal a familiar pattern for sex-related human trafficking, in which vulnerable victims are degraded, threatened and isolated from any support in their lives. We are making it a priority to apprehend those who commit these terrible crimes, and to rescue their victims.”
“Williams allegedly sought to supplement his sex-trade income by conspiring with his girlfriend in connection with a major heist of diamonds from a john at a Manhattan hotel,” Attorney General Chiesa added. “Our human trafficking investigation led us to critical evidence in this major theft case.”
“Our new Human Trafficking Unit is partnering with all levels of law enforcement – in this case, the Edison Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service – to uncover these crimes and bring those responsible to justice,” said Elie Honig, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Human trafficking is a crime that takes place in the shadows, but we are working hard to expose it. We urge anyone who has been victimized by this alleged pimp to come forward confidentially and assist us in our ongoing investigation.”
The Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free, confidential tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report criminal activity. The public can also log on to the Division’s website at www.njdcj.org to report information confidentially.
It is alleged that Williams, who uses the street names “Knowledge” and “Don Cholo,” is a pimp who found young women in various locations, including the Cleveland, Ohio area. He allegedly brought them to New Jersey, either against their will or by enticing them with promises of a relationship or better life, in order to enslave them in prostitution. He owns high-performance cars, including two Maseratis and a Porsche, and sometimes pretends to be a music producer. He allegedly forced women to prostitute themselves by acts of violence or threats of violence.
Williams allegedly kept the women at his house or in nearby hotels, and would solicit clients for the women by placing sexually suggestive ads on a website called Backpage.com. Williams also allegedly escorted or sent the women to various hotels to solicit clients, including hotels in Manhattan, Atlantic City and Las Vegas. He demanded that the women charge high hourly rates for sex acts, typically $500 to $1,000, and turn all proceeds over to him. The women allegedly complied because they believed Williams would hurt them or their families if they didn’t.
The investigation was conducted and coordinated for the Division of Criminal Justice by Deputy Attorney General Russell Curley, Detective Naike Kudlick, Detective Eric Barnes, Detective Sgt. Keith Stopko, Detective Noelle Holl, Detective Sgt. Lisa Shea, Detective Terry Shaw and Detective Shawn Gorlin. They worked cooperatively with members of the Edison Police Department Special Operations Group, including Sgt. Michael Mintchwarner, Sgt. Frank Todd, Detective Michael Carullo, Detective Brian Maurath and Detective Jeff Abrams. The New Jersey State Police TEAMS Unit provided valuable assistance in the execution of warrants.
Attorney General Chiesa thanked the U.S. Marshals Service for their tireless efforts to successfully apprehend Williams.
First-degree crimes carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000, while second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The complaint filed against Williams is merely an accusation and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because the charges are indictable offenses, they will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.
In July 2012, Attorney General Chiesa issued a new statewide law enforcement directive to increase investigations and prosecutions of sex- and labor-related human trafficking crimes in New Jersey, identify and rescue human trafficking victims, provide comprehensive services to victims, and train police to recognize telltale indicators of human trafficking when investigating other offenses. He also announced the formation of the Human Trafficking Unit within the Division of Criminal Justice, with additional staff assigned to these crimes.